It is late, and I should be asleep. I’m struggling to find words for a book. Every time I open the book, even read it, even try to put an inadequate word to the page, exhaustion tries to shut my eyes, tries to shut down my heart.
The words are not there. Nothing is working, and whenever I try to write it, my soul backs away from the story, curls into a ball, puts his hand to the book and pleads, “No more, oh please, no more.”
You who read this may think I’m crazy. It’s just a book after all. Isn’t writing just the art of placing nice words on white pages?
How I wish writing were just that. It is not just that.
Listen, and listen closely. The great writers in our world, were very good at putting words on pages, but they could do what I fear I cannot do: they broke their hearts in order to break mine. I once foolishly believed that anyone could write, in the same way I thought that anyone could sing. I was wrong. Just because you can carry a tune doesn’t mean you can really sing. Just because you have an MA in English Grammar doesn’t mean you can write. The real writer, writes with the mastery of the grammarian, and uses words to show the reader the truth beating inside his heart. This is where rules can be broken in much the same way a singer can growl out a pitch or drop a note. So must the writer master language so that we can demonstrate beauty and brokenness, darkness and light, passion and pain.
Writing must spring from the soul. And the writer’s job is to reach deep inside himself and vomit and bleed every bit of passion he possesses out upon the clean white page. There should be a mess. There should be confession. There should be joy, fear, love, light, dark … pain.
Why am I crying as I write this article?
I am writing a book about a blind man who did something beyond belief. I have tried to write his story in five different ways, with 13 different drafts and I keep asking myself, “Why do you keep subjecting yourself to this? Just walk away.”
I can’t walk away. The truth is that day by day I am losing my own vision. I see so many beautiful things. But I can’t walk away from my blindness. Why then do I think I can walk away from this book.
How I wish I did not have to be afraid of going blind. I know everything will be okay. I know God will give me the grace I need, but I still am so very afraid.
I’m in pain, real pain writing this book because every word I write forces me to look at what it means to be blind. I cannot type the words into my book because every word I type is like pressing an alcohol laced rag upon a festering wound.
It’s as if every word I write reminds me — you will go blind — you will go blind — you will go blind — you will go blind. And then the story mocks me, shows me a man that has overcome more than I will ever face in all my life. How can I write a story that I can scarcely bear to hear? Why do I feel compelled to tell it?
The writer’s job is to channel this kind of emotion into his story. But can I do it. I fear the pain is so great that I do not have the strength nor the heart to channel anything.
This great conflict is forcing me to ask the question, where is the story in this book? Where is the story within me? I can’t find the words to express how frightened I am … will I ever find my way out of this book?